No more than 80,000 students will enrol to be engineers in Telangana this academic year, a little more than half the number of 2016-17, and barely a third of the number from three years ago. Reason: a crackdown by the state government on dubious engineering colleges, combined with a general lack of interest in engineering courses other than computer science, information technology, and electronics.
Also, strict enforcement by the government of the rules on the availability of infrastructure and faculty have forced many colleges to shut down. “The demand for engineering seats this year will not be more than 80,000, including management quota. In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University which does the admission process has cleared only 55,000 seats so far. A few colleges which have applied for permission are still under scrutiny, and after the college managements rectify certain anomalies pointed out by the JNTU inspection teams, they will take a call,” Prof T Papi Reddy, chairman of the Telangana State Council of Higher Education, said.
“The number of engineering colleges in the state may also come down to less than 150 but only about 40 to 50 colleges that are located in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Warangal districts may actually have students,” Prof Reddy added. Also, he said, “We are shutting down those institutes which do not meet the standards set by the state government.”
An official of the Council said students no longer seem to be that excited about an engineering degree. “The demand has also gone down drastically in recent years. Students are opting for courses other than engineering. Even in engineering, although 18 courses are offered, students give preference to only computer science, IT, electronics and, as a last option, electrical engineering,” the official said.
In the 2014-15 academic year, Telangana had 280 engineering colleges, which together offered 2.4 lakh seats. The number of seats plunged to 1.4 lakh in 2015-16, and that of functioning colleges to 212. These numbers remained almost the same in the 2016-17 academic year as well. Many engineering colleges did not have proper teaching infrastructure; officials said that during inspection, it was found that 68 colleges did not even have a building to conduct classes.
“Some buildings were left half constructed but classes had started. Nor were there enough faculty. We found that the names of the same teachers and faculty were listed at different colleges. Some colleges were claiming fee reimbursement for non-existent students. All these colleges have either been shut down, or they have wound up voluntarily because they cannot meet the standards set by the state government,” said the Council official.
The Council was expecting a demand for up to 1.25 lakh engineering seats, but of the 1,41,136 students who appeared for the Engineering, Agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET 2017), only 98,596 qualified. Officials said that campus placements in JNTU, Mahatma Gandhi University, Osmania University and Palamuru University, and their affiliated colleges, have been lacklustre this year, prompting new students to look for options other than engineering.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh too, the AP State Council for Higher Education is expecting at least 10,000 seats to go vacant in the 306 private engineering colleges and 17 universities in the state, which offer a total 1,57,074 engineering seats. APSCHE secretary Dr S Vardarajan said that 1,87,484 students appeared for the AP EAMCET 2017, out of which 1,49,505 qualified. In 2016-17, AP saw as many as 52,276 of the available 1,09,479 engineering seats go vacant.